Before I get my ass in gear this morning, I just had to post about this.

If you were a trekkie back in the seventies, and you remember the animated series (which the Guy just DLd), do you remember reading or buying Alan Dean Foster's novelizations of that series? I bought it when I was a kid. I had all ten books. And then I grew out of my Star Trek fanaticism (so I thought) and traded them all off to Annie's Book Swap in Wellesley, MA when I was in High School.

I kick myself now, because those were some damn fun Star Trek stories. Foster really outdid himself on some of the stories. When I finally had a chance to watch the animated show (in the eighties?) I was so disappointed in it.

But anyhow. I am now doing a service and letting everyone know that you can acquire, or reacquire in my case, the reprints of the Star Trek Logs 1-10 in a reprint edition of five books. The publisher condensed the books from 10 into 5 paperbacks. I don't much like the new covers, but hey. What can you do?

Log 1 and 2

You can hop over to the other four books from that page.

Happy reading, y'all!

Miyazaki Hayao is a master of the animated film. Perhaps one of my favorites of his films is My Neighbor Totoro, an 1988 film that features no violence, no mustachioed twirling villian; it features a father taking care of his two girls in a large old farmhouse in a rural village (rural area no longer) in 1958 and visiting his wife who is ill with an undisclosed disease. This movie, along with others, was a huge inspiration for the American series Avatar: The Last Airbender--most noticably for its character Appa, the six legged white flying buffalo. Totoro features a Cat Bus-a many legged friendly cat-beast that travels the magical Other world, where everything is friendly and child-like.

It is perhaps one of Miyazaki's most optomistic films, and certainly a huge one in its cultural influence in Japan.

Here you can see the Cat Bus. There are a lot of similiarities between the Cat Bus's magical abilities and the double-decker bus in the Harry Potter series that can squeek past narrow objects, part objects, and so forth. I have no idea if Cat Bus was partly the inspiration for the HP bus, but it's possible.

  And here's a picture of the main cast (sans Father and Cat Bus)

Totoro and the girls live an in almost-ideal world, if only their mother wasn't sick. Their father, although distracted by his work as a professor, is still something of a kindred spirit to the girls, and understands their world of fantasy, even if he doesn't completely believe it himself. In many ways, he's a spiritual brother to the father in Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. Of course, Bradbury's story features two boys who are as close as brothers battling against the evil of a carnival visiting their town. Both stories feature the supernatural, the small-town life, an ideal father, an absent mother: if you haven't read Wicked, or watched Totoro, it's worth reading and watching the two stories.

It's unusual for animation or fiction to tell the story of how little girls grow up. Fiction and the movies are rife with the coming of age of this case, the two girls don't suddenly Grow Up, but they do get their mother back, and the kindly supernatural spirits of the trees and fields help them work with their complex feelings of love, abandonment, desire for family and Mom.

Miyazaki is a master of not only animation, but he's also able to (at least in this point of his career) to treat girls as people with their own stories. It may have been difficult for him to frame this story with two brothers, since boys tend to shout out Adventure and Danger and Adversaries! at every turn. It works with his two girls. They are charming, and their adventures in the woods around their house are reassuring instead of dismaying.

Highly recommended.


Aug. 13th, 2008 11:31 am
My new favorite cartoon (well not *favorite* favorite!) is Chowder. At first it annoyed the heck out of me until I sat down with my kids and watched it with them. It's hysterical, and the jokes and storylines are imaginative and goofy. My favorite character on the show is Shnitzel, who ONLY says, "Radda radda" with varying voice permutations. He's possibly the funniest character on the show. I also like Mung the Chef, who employs Shnitzel and Chowder in his catering business. It's a very inventive show. It has some cliche relationships and storylines, but now, with the first seasons well underway, I think the writers have gotten totally used to the weird, stuck-in-someone's-head world that Chowder and the other characters live in. It keeps getting wilder and wilder, and sometimes I wonder what they're smoking in the writer's room!
 Three TV Reviews:

The Seed--Atlantis

Psych--Premiere Episode, 3rd season
Psych )

The Avatar--Nickelodean/Cartoon Network



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